After extensive consultations and planning with the indigenous peoples’ community, local government, and education partners, the Department of Education (DepEd) established the first Tboli Senior High School.
Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC said, “This is the first of its kind. We endeavored to make sure that the curriculum as well as its [senior high school] offerings are in line with Indigenous Peoples culture and language. Ang eskwelahan dapat ang link between culture and development.”
He said, “Ito po ang kauna-unahang Senior High School na sinikap ng DepEd—kasama ang Ateneo de Davao—na kunsultahin at pakinggan ang mga hinaing at mga pangarap ng ating mga katutubo.”
He emphasized the need of the education system to be inclusive and centered on the needs and context of the learners, saying, “We are a nation in search of who we are. Until we are able to return to the roots of our indigenous peoples, we will never be able to find our soul.”
“If we are serious about being learner-centered, we should also be serious about being culturally sensitive,” Luistro added.
Luistro also dedicated the launching of the Tboli Senior High School to the late Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan awardee Lang Dulay, saying that “we need to understand and to nurture of our culture so that the works of Lang Dulay will not be lost with her and that we can pass on her dreams and arts to the next generation.”
Tboli Senior High School (TSHS), which will be initially lodged at Lake Sebu National High School with approximately 45 students for its early implementation of Grade 11 in SY 2015-2016, will be offering technical-vocational track, focusing on Sustainable Community Resources Management with two options: Agriculture and Ecotourism.
Active engagement of the indigenous community
Datu Benito Blonto, chair of the Municipal Tribal Council of Lake Sebu, said that proper consultations and coordination with the parents and students in the Tboli community, Lake Sebu NHS, and other education stakeholders have been crucial in creating the program.
Through consultations with Tboli elders, teachers, parents, students, and other education stakeholders, TSHS came up with its aspirations for its students that seek to uphold, preserve, and promote the Tboli cultural identity through an inclusive, participative, environmentally-friendly, and quality culture-based education.
Blonto said the program will be beneficial to the students, adding, “Pagkatapos nila sa K to 12, makakapasok sila sa employment dahil may skills and qualifications na sila. Sa pamamagitan ng programang ito, ide-develop natin ang skills ng mga estudyante base sa kultura. Sasanayin sila sa ecotourism at paggamit ng resources na mayroon sa lugar.”
The program intends to create graduates who are capable of developing and managing their own resources, creating sustainable livelihood and opportunities for the Tboli community, where the school is situated. Through the program, graduates will be equipped with entrepreneurial and management skills to prepare them for small-scale business ventures or communal cooperative management.
The development of the TSHS is an initiative being undertaken by DepEd in partnership with Ateneo de Davao University, particularly in the areas of curriculum development, teacher training and mentoring, and research.